Have you decided to take the plunge and bring a furry companion into your heart and home? Choosing the best dog is a major life decision. Your future pup will require a lot of love and responsibility in addition to time, money, and commitment. With careful consideration and research, however, you can enjoy several years of love and loyalty in your future.
What type of dog should I get?
Your life will be forever altered when you adopt a dog. It is therefore important to take the time to consider your potential compatibility with different types of dogs. For example, what personality traits, energy level, and size will suit you and your lifestyle best? It is also important to note what adjustments you are willing to make to your current lifestyle in order to take care of a dog. Dogs require a comfortable home, quality food, medical care, regular exercise, discipline, and consistent attention. Here we offer some tips to help you and your family choose the best dog.
Best Dog Size
The size of your ideal dog will probably depend on not only your personal preferences but also the size of your home and access to outdoor space. Be they small, medium, or large, every size of dog requires a slightly different level of care and consideration.
Some people know instinctively that they want a small lap dog that can be carried around. This size of dog comes with specific needs. It should be noted that many small dogs are delicate and particularly vulnerable. If they are mishandled or stepped on, it can cause serious injury. Small dog breeds are also more sensitive to colder temperatures, which should be considered if living in a colder climate. Despite their small stature, these dogs also need obedience training. Some of them have the potential to develop antagonistic attitudes to compensate for their size. A positive of small dog breeds is that they do not require a large amount of living or exercise space. They are a good option for people living in an apartment or city.
Large dogs most notably do need more space to move around, both for their health and well-being and the conservation of your household goods. Those big bodies and long tails can certainly cause a good deal of damage in moments of excitement. Another factor to remember when considering a big dog breed is the cost to your family. Larger dogs tend to be more expensive. They require more food, dog supplies, and possibly more medical treatment. Training is also necessary for large dogs. Given their size, it is important that you be able to control their behavior to prevent accident or injury.
Don’t forget that there are several medium sized dog breeds out there as well. They are often the perfect compromise for families with moderate real estate. Medium sized dogs are perfectly proportioned for settling into a life with you in your home.
Energy Level of the Dog
It is fairly common knowledge that some dogs are more energetic than others. Oftentimes energy level is determined by breed, but breed is not the only cause. All dogs need regular exercise and you must be willing to commit to providing that for your new furry friend. If your lifestyle does not allow for you to take your dog on one to two casual walks every day, then you should consider a more low energy dog. Something like a Basset Hound, for instance. For those active and outdoorsy owners looking for a partner, try a breed like the Border Collie.
You may need to adjust or alter the amount of attention and exercise you give your dog over time. If your friend is exhibiting certain behaviors they probably need to engage in more physical activities. Some bad behaviors may include constant barking, digging up the yard or garden, destroying items in your home, or otherwise acting out. Many common behavior problems are the result of pent-up energy that needs to be burned off. Before you adopt a dog of any breed, make sure you understand what their typical level of energy may be and make sure you have the time to address those needs.
Health and Grooming
Dogs need regular basic grooming, but some breeds require more maintenance. Canines with different types of hair coat and ear lengths, in particular, have different needs. For those dogs with long hair that grows constantly, you will have to invest in more specialized grooming. Alternatively, dogs with short and smooth coats tend to shed profusely, meaning more clean-up at home for owners. There are grooming tools available in most pet stores to help reduce shedding. When it comes to ears, those dogs sporting long and floppy ears are typically more prone to ear infections. This means you must be vigilant about keeping their ears clean. Another somewhat messy physical trait is drooling. Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, and other similar breeds tend to be the biggest culprits. It is important to do some research to learn more about the health and grooming needs of particular dog breeds before finalizing an adoption.
Age of the Dog
The age of your new dog should certainly be a major factor in your decision process. Dogs at different stages of life require different levels of care.
It may come as no surprise that puppies usually require the greatest amount of attention and training. This is especially true for their first six months of life. You will be dedicating a good deal of time to teaching a puppy good behavior, including housebreaking him. Patience and consistency is key. Be cognizant, also, of the fact that your puppy may grow into a dog with a different personality than you expected. Frankly, the same can be said for humans as well.
Adult dogs can be a great choice for families. One benefit is that with a full grown dog you will have a better idea about its energy level, temperament, and any specialized needs. An adult dog may still require some training. Most have at least had some degree and some socialization which allows for an easy transition to a new home.
Senior dogs are also a viable option. Sadly, dogs in their golden years are less likely to be adopted and end up either euthanized or spending their last days in shelters. A senior dog has the benefit of exhibiting lower energy, which may appeal to some owners. The biggest drawback may be the special attention a senior dog requires. There will be more frequent visits to the vet and the potential for more health problems as time goes on. This can unfortunately become cost prohibitive. Also, you know that you will have fewer years to spend with a senior dog. These dogs are no less caring and loyal, though. Adopting an older dog can be truly rewarding for both parties involved.
Pure vs Mixed Breed
The biggest difference between a purebred dog and a mixed breed dog is expectation. You will have a better idea of what to expect from a dog that is purebred, thanks to generalized characteristics. There are no guarantees, though!
People may be drawn to a specific breed of dog for a number reasons. Perhaps it is the breed of your childhood dog, or a dog you spent a lot of time with. Perhaps you just like the way that breed of dog looks or acts. Maybe you have read or heard about a particular breed that interests you. Whichever pure breed you are interested in, be sure you conduct thorough research before making a final decision. Make sure you are willing and able to face the challenges of a particular temperament, specialized grooming needs, or health issues. Also make sure the breed will integrate well with your family and any other pets in the home. Finally, make sure you acquire the dog from a responsible dog breeder.
Mixed breed dogs can be found anywhere and they make wonderful canine companions. The mixing of two or more dog breeds often balances out personality and physical traits. It is wise to expect the unexpected, though. Especially if you have no idea what breeds your dog is comprised of. If you adopt a puppy, you may not know what it will look like when fully grown, what type of personality it may develop, or what health issues it may face. The gamble is definitely worth it to add a loving a loyal companion to your family and to give a dog a good and happy life.
Sometimes the best dog for you is just the one you choose
While it is certainly ideal to research, contemplate, and plan to find the best dog, sometimes you just find a dog and fall in love at first sight. In that case, do the best you can with what you’ve got. Remember to visit the vet regularly and monitor your dog for their health and behavior. Above all, enjoy your furry friend.
What Dog Fits Me Best?
Choosing the right dog can be difficult. Take our dog breed selector quiz to find the best dog to fit your lifestyle.
How can Embark help?
If you want to determine exactly what breed your dog is, try our Embark dog DNA testing kit. From a single swab, we provide you with a detailed report about your dog’s DNA. Learn about breed characteristics and potential health issues for your dog. Be prepared to give your dog the best care possible.